WEMBLEY will always be best remembered for one famous hat-trick in particular – Sir Geoff Hurst being honoured a couple of years ago for his World Cup heroics of 1966 with a personalised stone at the national stadium, writes Richard Sutcliffe.
But, on Saturday, a much more unusual – and, even from an amber and black point of view, unexpected – hat-trick came within a Tiger’s whisker of happening in the FA Cup final.
When Steve Bruce opted for a three-man defence, few could have predicted that within eight minutes two of the back-line would have found the net.
But that is exactly what happened, meaning that when Alex Bruce looped a header towards goal in the 13th minute, a very unusual hat-trick looked on the cards. That was, however, until Kieran Gibbs leapt high to head the ball to safety in the nick of time.
For captain Curtis Davies, who along with James Chester had put Hull in charge, Gibbs’s clearance proved a pivotal moment.
“I am absolutely devastated,” said the former Birmingham defender. “I might sit down in a few days and realise that I have lived a boyhood dream. I have played and scored in a cup final.
“I never thought I’d score in a Cup final. But, for now, it is just a feeling of devastation.
“People say how we gave them a great game, but we might as well have been beaten 5-0 and never have been in it.
“To be 2-0 up and lose any game is devastating, but when it is a cup final for a trophy and a medal – this is one of the worst feelings I will ever have.”
Davies, the club’s Player of the Year by some margin in 2013-14, was in outstanding form against Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey may have bizarrely been given the official man of the match award, but few in the 89,345 crowd were in doubt as to who the true star of the show had been.
On the defeat, Davies said: “I think if we had managed to hold on to that two-goal lead a little bit longer, it would have allowed them to panic. But them getting a goal back so quickly meant they could settle down, knowing they still had 70-plus minutes to score another.
“The difference was, even without those fresh legs, they were keeping the ball. We were chasing the ball and our legs went.”